Regulator News

Victorian news

Safety a focus for farm visits

WorkSafe, Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Labour Hire Authority visited 38 horticulture businesses in the Koo Wee Rup, Lang Lang and Cardinia regions after an online farm safety webinar in October.

Inspectors and authorised officers helped growers comply with workplace health and safety obligations, COVID-19 requirements and the proper provision of labour hire workers through a licenced provider.

WorkSafe Regional Operations Director Eastern Region, Kevin Hayes, said harvest season was an ideal time to educate farm operators on safety and address any compliance issues. "The pressures of harvest can mean that horticulture workers are exposed to a higher risk of unsafe situations, so it's important growers receive all the guidance they need during this busy time," Mr Hayes said.

WorkSafe inspectors issued eight improvement notices to duty holders for safety issues including improper guarding on machinery, and substandard traffic management systems to prevent pedestrian and forklift interactions in packing sheds. 

There have been seven deaths in the agriculture industry so far this year. Joint operations aim to help prevent further harm.

Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner, Steve Dargavel, said the recent visits demonstrated the effectiveness of the joint education and inspection approach. "Our inspectors were well received by growers, providers and workers and we delightfully found growers were using licensed providers." The Labour Hire Authority encourages growers to use the free Follow my providers tool to track any changes to the licence status of their providers.

WorkSafe, Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions, Labour Hire Authority, Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation are hosting a virtual information session on horticulture safety on 19 January 2022. Booking information can be found here.

WorkSafe's OHS Essentials program is another way growers can ensure they are up to speed with the latest safety requirements. The program provides businesses access to independent consultants who offer free and personalised OHS advice. Source: WorkSafe media release 

Safety Soapbox newsletter out now

The December edition of WorkSafe's Safety Soapbox is out today. The Manager of WorkSafe's construction program, Tony Cockerell, shares an end of year message with readers, 

Other items:

  • Sunsmart UV workplace safety training 
  • CIC update
  • Locking up building sites safely for the Christmas break
  • Snake season
  • Prosecutions in the sector
  • Interstate news
  • The list of incidents reported to WorkSafe: In November 2021, the construction industry reported 190 incidents to WorkSafe. Of these, 80 per cent resulted in injury.  There were two fatalities and five serious near misses. 

Access the December 2021 edition here  - the summaries of reported incidents can be downloaded from this edition of Safety Soapbox.

National news

National Fatality Statistics 2021  

Safe Work Australia updated its statistics on fatalities on December 9, at which time it had been notified that 132 Australian workers had been killed at work this year - this is 10 more than the last update on November 25. Five of these were in the Transport, postal & warehousing sector, three in the Agriculture, forestry & fishing sector, and two in Construction. Fatalities have been in the following sectors:

  • 46 in Transport, postal & warehousing 
  • 25 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
  • 20 in Construction
  • 12 in Manufacturing
  • 7 in Mining
  • 5 in Arts & recreation services
  • 5 in Public administration & safety
  • 3 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
  • 2 in Other Services 
  • 2 in Retail trade
  • 1 in Wholesale trade
  • 1 in Accommodation & food services
  • 1 in Education & training
  • 1 in Administrative & support services
  • 1 in Healthcare & social assistance

These figures are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident, consequently sometimes the numbers of deaths in each sector change. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Preliminary worker deaths webpage. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities database which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards. Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. 

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